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At the center of every good business are its customers. To remain in business, an organization must maintain a solid relationship with its customers by continuously delivering top-notch experiences that give them value for their money. This is particularly true in the tech space because it is so fast-paced and dynamic.
The CD Foundation stated in its State of Continuous Delivery Report that if products don’t “reach broad uptake from customers, it’s often because they never received early feedback from prospective customers to determine whether or not the product or service was relevant.” As the CD Foundation suggests, customer input can improve the customer experience and lead to greater adoption.
Yet, receiving customer input and implementing it are two different things. One key element to implementing customer feedback often and quickly is continuous delivery. Practicing continuous delivery allows you to build solid and long-term relationships by quickly integrating customer feedback and deploying new code with safety and reliability.
What Is Continuous Delivery?
Continuous delivery (CD) is a software development practice where the software team releases sustainable changes to users securely and in real time. This means developing working software features that are stable enough to deliver value on-demand and be shipped in the shortest possible time. It also means that bug fixes are quick and that new feature updates don’t break existing features. Most importantly, it also guarantees that users’ legacy data is safe and secure.
CD follows an organized process widely known as the continuous delivery pipeline. The pipeline begins with the developer committing his code to the source repository. Following each new commit, automated tests and checks run to ensure that the code follows set standards. Once this is verified, the application is automatically deployed for integration, staging or user acceptance testing, after which it is ready for deployment on demand.
Common Development Issues
SlashData research shows that only one in ten developers releases multiple deployments each day. For most developers, it takes at least one week for committed code to make it into production. In many cases, a lot of time is spent troubleshooting issues and restoring service when an unplanned outage occurs. Stability is lost, leading to a cycle of frequent outages when something else breaks due to a previous fix.
Most times, these issues result from inefficiencies in the deployment process. You may have the best on your development team, but their talent will be grossly underused if the best don’t have the right tools with which to work. This ultimately leads to dissatisfaction for both the development team and the clients.
One fundamental cause of deployment issues is human error stemming from manual processes. Common issues include:
- Not seeing errors in the code
- Misinterpreting a line of text
- Making changes directly on the server
These seemingly small mistakes can lead to huge problems, such as system crashes or unexpected breaks in an application when making changes to a different part of the source code.
Lack of communication is also a significant impediment. Someone may resolve an issue without properly documenting or tracking it, and another developer could be working on the same problem, unaware that it’s already fixed. These issues lead to unexpected failures and unhappy clients.
Implementing CD best practices can help minimize these issues.
Best Practices Strengthen User Relationships
Establishing and maintaining deployment best practices are critical to reduce your product failures and both establish and cultivate long-standing relationships with your users. Let’s discuss how implementing CD best practices benefits and strengthens the relationships you have with your users.
Quickly Address Customer Input
When software teams follow best practices in their CD processes, it allows for smooth and safe deployment of applications. Current customers are less likely to switch to a competitor if they see bug reports and requests for features rapidly addressed. Rapidly shipping app improvements not only allows your users to feel heard, but also reduce the likelihood of your product failing. New customers are more likely to stay if they regularly see improvements to your software, experience fewer bugs, and again, feel like their needs are considered.
Monitor and Improve Key Metrics
Paying close attention to the metrics from your CD report is also crucial when developing stronger and longer-lasting relationships with users through effective communication. Of particular interest are deployment frequency and lead time for changes.
Your deployment frequency is likely closely connected to how quickly you’re responding to user needs. If your deployment frequency is closer to a number each day rather than a number each month, this is a good indication that you are responding quickly to user feedback. The more promptly you respond, the happier the user.
Lead time for changes measures how long it takes to move a commit into production. This metric is an excellent way to measure the health of your development team. It’s also a good reflection of how prepared your team is to respond to user input quickly.
Leverage Progressive Delivery
Progressive delivery is the natural evolution of CD. While CD enables tangible velocity, continuously pushing code from build through to production faster can increase the risk of bad rollouts that compromise the customer experience. This is precisely what progressive delivery addresses.
Progressive delivery provides control levers to manage how code is delivered to a production environment, ensuring velocity while introducing safety to minimize breakage and protect the customer experience.
You can implement progressive delivery in many different ways. For instance, it’s possible to use blue/green deployments, canary rollouts, feature flags or A/B testing, among other options, to achieve the benefits of progressive delivery. In all cases, a controlled, gradual — progressive — code release is vital. Initially, the release targets a smaller audience, such as:
- An internal environment
- A small percentage of users
- A specific subset of customers
- A target region
As the rollout to a smaller audience proves successful, it gradually targets larger audiences until the entire deployment completes. With this approach, progressive delivery helps minimize deploying buggy code and ensures a better customer experience.
Moving Forward with CD
This article explored how continuous delivery is key to maintaining a smooth customer relationship. It also took a look at the conventional CD technique and how it compares to the progressive delivery technique. To ensure that you exceed customer expectations, you must continuously deliver top-notch services to them, and the CD tool you use can help you do this.
Get in touch with Armory today to request a demo and get a complimentary assessment of your software delivery practices.
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